Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Christmas Horror Story Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
It’s the season of joy, peace, and goodwill…unless you live in Bailey Downs. Last Christmas Eve, two teens came to a grisly end in a school basement. Now, one year later, a new set of horrors has come to town. As three friends explore the site of the massacre, a malevolent spirit is determined to keep them there forever. One of the first cops to the scene of the bloody murders has new complications as his seven-year-old son exhibits terrifying and violent behavior. And when a local family seeks reconciliation with an estranged aunt for the wrong reasons, they suddenly find themselves running in terror from Krampus, the demonic anti-Santa Claus. Not even St. Nick is immune to the terror as he fights back against a horde of zombie elves. This is destined to be a holiday no one will ever forget…

Film (3 out of 5 stars)
A Christmas Horror Story is an anthology movie where the four different stories intertwine and all take place in the small town of Bailey Downs. Connected by local radio host, Dangerous Dan (William Shatner), each story tells of a Christmas horror in the town. Three students become trapped in the school basement, which was also the site of two brutal murders exactly one year before; the police officer who investigated the murders goes to the woods to cut down a Christmas tree with his wife and young son, and brings back more than a tree when his son is possessed; a greedy family tries to make amends with their lonely aunt, only to be rebuffed and unleashes Krampus – the anti-Claus; and in the North Pole, Santa himself is dealing with his normally sweet and kind elves, who have suddenly died and turned into zombies.

Not your typical anthology, A Christmas Horror Story jumps from story to story, rather than tell each story in its entirety, using radio host Dangerous Dan to connect each story. William Shatner does a great job as the DJ, bringing a bit of levity into what could otherwise have been a boring interlude. As each story connects to the other, the viewer begins to see how the stories and characters relate. From the three students wandering the school basement where the cop investigated a year earlier, to the family who encounters Krampus, to Santa fighting his evil elves and ultimately Krampus, each story subtly connects and this anthology becomes one story.

At first, I wasn’t sure what the point of the movie was, but as time went on, I began to see and enjoyed it so much more. Santa isn’t your typical Santa Claus. He does not have cherry cheeks and a belly that jiggles like a bowlful of jelly. He is tall and lean, and very tough. He almost has to be to take on those elves and Krampus. The Krampus is really well done and his story is very creepy. The three students in the school learn that the spirits keeping them there have specific plans for them – and it’s not to be released. The young family with the possessed boy finds out that something has taken their son and replaced him with a changeling – a demon who takes the place of the boy in order to live a human life.

All of the actors did really well in their roles. Directors Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban and Brett Sullivan did a great job intertwining each of the stories and with the big reveal at the end of the movie. I honestly did not see that coming. It’s a twist that was not easy to predict, and I quite enjoyed seeing how it played out. A Christmas Horror Story is a bloody and fun movie, one that kept me entertained and interested.
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
The 1080p high-definition widescreen (1.85:1) was good. Colors were accurate and the picture was clear. Much of the movie uses a dark palette, and the red used to represent blood was not too bright and seemed authentic. The transition between stories was smooth and I noticed no issues with the picture.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
A Christmas Horror Story uses 5.1 DTS-HD master audio and it’s pretty good. Dialogue is clear and there were only one or two instances where I had to adjust the volume down because it was too loud. The background music was good and didn’t overwhelm the rest of the scene and the soundtrack worked well throughout the whole movie. Closed captioning is available in English SDH, if needed.
Extras (1 1/2 out of 5 stars)
I found the lack of special features disappointing, but enjoyed the behind-the scenes feature that was included. About 15 minutes of interviews with the cast and crew made the movie sound so much fun to make. The information on how the stories and characters were developed was really interesting, as well. This was a feature that I was not bored of watching five minutes into it.
Summary (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
A Christmas Horror Story is a fun movie to add to your collection. While not destined to be a Christmas classic, it’s a fun movie with a twist that hopefully the viewer doesn’t see coming. Sometimes, when there is such a big twist, the movie is ruined for future viewings, but I can say, I will definitely watch this again – and not only during the holiday season.

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